ALL PHOTOS BY PERRY LEACH
“Anyone else hate guitars?” asks Michael D’addario, the younger half of The Lemon Twigs, as their set at Manchester’s Ritz comes to a close. “The only thing worse than a guitar is two guitars!”. So much for nearly every fellow indie-rock band on the planet then. “I hate the drums”. At this point, it’s difficult to know whether he’s intoxicated or just plain strange. Nevertheless, he and his big brother Brian, along with their touring band, have just delivered a stunning performance.
The Lemon Twigs are a Long Island brotherly duo, who rose to prominence in 2016 with their pan-sixties (and seventies) sound that skilfully incorporates elements of psychedelic, prog and glam rock. In an interview, Brian D’addario describes being influenced by The Beach Boys’ 1968 album Friends – a lesser known record, but a masterpiece all the same. They released two singles accompanied by suitably over-the-top music videos, before releasing their Foxygen-produced and recorded debut album, Do Hollywood.
Whilst Do Hollywood and its follow-up E.P Brothers of Destruction are a lot of fun to listen to, they’e perhaps too faithful in their revival sixties sound. At times the songs can be overly derivative, bordering on pastiche. However, having seen The Lemon Twigs live, it would be unfair to assume they were even of this planet – let alone this century.
They begin with Brian on lead, pogoing around the stage to the opening few bars of ‘I Wanna Prove to You’. It’s a morose medley of heartache and romantic longing, whose sorrow drowns the crowd’s euphoria. A track from Brothers of Destruction, ‘Why Didn’t You Say That?’, follows – a glittery Lennon-McCartney-esque pop number that’s backed with a sweet three-part harmony. Keyboard player Danny Ayala effortlessly taps out the funky-as-shit electric piano melody to ‘These Words’, much to the audience’s approval. The song’s chorus is powerful enough to turn half-finished pint cups into projectiles – or so it seems.
One song that takes everyone by surprise is a cover version of Jonathan Richman’s ‘You Can’t Talk to the Dude’. Considering the track came out in the nineties, it goes down pretty well. It’s a testament to the Twigs’ creative versatility as musicians – and a perfect addition to their setlist.
As ever, Michael D’addario proves himself to be a percussive prodigy on all of his brother’s songs – particularly on ‘Haroomata’, during which he seems to be possessed by the spirit of Keith Moon himself. His flamboyant performance on the drums alone is awe-inspiring. Emerging from behind the kit rocking shades, a beret and a sparkly bandeau, he trades his sticks for a guitar to sing ‘Baby, Baby’. After more songs from Brothers of Destruction, we’re teased by the opening chords to sparkling rock masterpiece ‘As Long as We’re Together’. Michael’s voice is nasal and slightly shaky – but it goes down brilliantly with the crowd.
When the outfit return to the stage for their encore, they play little of their older material; in fact, they performed some new music. It’s quite clear that The Lemon Twigs are eager to move onto something new. Their new material is promising – and it seems that Do Hollywood was just the beginning.